Every year come Lawnparties, we, the student masses of Princeton, hear a lot about fashion, style and the value of the sundress. Street was on the ground as usual this year, snapping photos of the orgiastic frenzy of pastel and irony that was Sunday afternoon. You’ll find those photos on the back page of our issue, but we’ve decided to devote the front page not to you, the stylish student, but to your stylish professors.
Before you is just a sampling of Princeton’s many fashion-conscious professors, with heavy representation, of course, from Europeans and those who study them. Let the snazzy sartorial stylings of these men and women inspire you, as Frenchman Andre Benhaim urges, to look beyond the lure of your flip-flops.
Christy Wampole, French and Italian
Education: University of North Texas, Ecole normale superieure, Stanford University
Interests: The bicycle, modernism, producing radio shows, late 20th-century essayistic French and Italian fiction
“Cerebral rock”: Prof. Wampole was once the vocalist in Glass Wave, a “cerebral rock” band. She is on Spotify.
1) What are you wearing today?
Today I am wearing a dress I bought at ASOS.com. They have everything, and it’s very affordable. My tights are from Target, I believe, and my shoes are from FLY London.
2) Do you think it’s important for professors to be stylish?
It’s not necessary, but if you are interested in aesthetics, it plays a role in how you carry yourself in class. What you wear does say something about your subject matter. For instance, I teach contemporary French literature. There is something about the timeliness of the contemporary that makes me interested in style.
3) If you could show up in sweatpants and T-shirt to class, would you?
I don’t think I would because I think the sloppiness could sort of translate into my pedagogies.
4) What is your style inspiration?
I dig a lot in thrift stores. I spend every summer in Berlin, so most of my clothes come from Berlin thrift stores. One in particular, Humana, has a lot of vintage stuff from the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s in great condition. Sometimes I just go and look around and throw weird things together. I really like street fashion. I like things that are cool, sort of different and of course affordable.
5) If you met a stranger and could tell them only one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I am a feminist.
— Hannah Park, Staff Writer
Andre Benhaim, French and Italian
Education: Universite de Paris, Universite de Lille, Emory University
Interests: Proust, animals in French literature, ethics and aesthetics, graphic novels, Jews and graphic novels, envisioning Paris, being a pescetarian, Forbes vegetarian night
1) What are you wearing today?
The brands, I have no idea. I don’t pay a lot of attention to brands. It’s mostly Italian and French designers. But I’m wearing a two-button, notched lapel black blazer, a little on the shiny side, with striped dark grey suit pants and a lilac button-down shirt. But one of the things I pay the most attention to is my socks, so I have matching lilac socks. The only brand I know I’m wearing is my shoes — they’re Kenzo. I was hesitant to buy them because they’re a bit pointy, but I got used to them.
Somebody once gave me a tip. They said, “Whatever you wear, if it’s bold and daring and you don’t feel comfortable, just put it on and try to forget about it,” so that’s what I’m doing.
2) How would you describe your fashion sense?
I try to be elegant and simple at the same time, so not anything too daring and bold, and sometimes I regret that. I really admire people who wear things that are original in color, for instance. But my sense of fashion is to appear elegant but not overdressed, which can be tricky. So today, I feel a bit overdressed, but that’s because it’s a special occasion. Not just this interview — there’s a reception tonight. It’s also the first day of my graduate seminar, and I need to give a good impression.
3) Do you think it’s important for professors to pay attention to style?
I do, but not overly so. Teaching is a performance, but it’s not just a performance. I think it would be probably unwise or risky to pay too much attention to style because you run the risk of giving the impression that it’s the only thing you care about, and it can also be distracting for your students.
4) What would you say is your style inspiration?
It’s somewhere in between Marcello Mastroianni from Fellini’s “8 1/2” and Ben Stiller from “Zoolander.”
5) What is the best and worst thing about Princeton students’ style?
The best and the worst [is] the same thing: the casualness, the freedom the students display in their fashion, the diversity. I’ve seen very nice outfits out there. But I’m still trying — and this is my Frenchness speaking, I guess — to get used to flip-flops.
— Lillian Li, Senior Writer
AnneMarie Luijendijk, Religion
Education: Vrije Universiteit, Harvard University
Interests: Papyrus, the New Testament, early Christians
Da Vinci Code: Prof. Luijendijk is part of a team of scholars who just announced the discovery of a 2nd-century gospel that suggests Jesus was married.
1) What are you wearing today?
Black knee-length skirt; black laced top. Around my neck is an antique, 19th-century piece of Dutch jewelry, which was worn with traditional Dutch clothes. Normally, I like high heels in snake leather or any other animal print, but I’m wearing flats today. I sometimes wear glasses — Ralph Lauren tortoiseshell, to be exact. However, I don’t like brand names. I [try to remove] them from my articles of clothing — I’m against free advertising.
2) What’s your style inspiration?
My sister. When I was a grad student, my sister used to give me some of her clothes every time she came to visit from the Netherlands. Her clothes were really elegant, beautiful clothes — very stylish. As for animal prints, at the beginning of grad school I saw a pair of fuzzy leopard pants—[it was] love at first sight!
3) How would you describe your fashion sense?
I like to wear what I find beautiful. I have a preference for animal prints. I’ve thought about why, but I really don’t know. I like black for winter, white for summer and animal prints all year round. I find animal prints very beautiful: cheetah, leopard, tiger prints — very Princetonian, right? All the animal prints are fake — I’m against killing animals, but I’m not a vegetarian. I would like to be one though!
4) Do you think it’s important for professors to pay attention to their style?
Well, I do it because of the way I am. I think how other people dress is up to them. People should be comfortable and happy. I’m a very visual person. My scholarly work is also very visual — I work with papyrus. It’s very much a part of who I am, both in my work and in the way I dress and how I decorate my house.
5) So, you love animal prints. Do you force your kids to wear them as well?
I don’t force them, but when I’m going to buy clothes for them [I look for] leopard outfits. I bought a very tiny leopard coat for a three-month-old 15 years ago. I guess I’ve always wanted to dress my children this way!
— Nick Ellis, Senior Writer